To the living we owe respect – said the French philosopher Voltaire – to the dead we owe only truth. This was exactly the policy that inspired over the past 20 years the politics about the Memory of the municipality. In the international conference held in Arezzo in 1994, which had the merit of arousing across the Country a resumption of researches on the Nazi massacres, the memory of Civitella was defined by historians as a divided memory, a memory that is torn inside by different attributions for the responsibility of the massacre. Through that conference were collected documents and testimonies you can in part find in the video section of this site. In this situation was particularly important the full reconstruction of the historical truth. In 1998, through a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the Mayors of Civitella, Bucine, Cavriglia and Stia, Gilberto Dindalini, Paolo Nannini, Enzo Brogi and Roberto Frulloni, was commissioned to the historian Carlo Gentile a research in Germany. Gentile’s research (which you can see in the documents section) constituted a valuable contribution to abtain a full and accurate reconstruction of the origin and dynamicas of the massacre of 29 June 1944. Gentile’s research was also the first step tat allowed the communities to formulate a specific request for criminal proceedings, entrustinf for it the lawyer Guido Calvi, Rome. And with the arrival to the Military Prosecutor’s office in La Spezia of Marco De Paolis, who worked assiduously with commitment and determination for the truth and for the identification of the responsibles, it was possible to arrive to the judgements of 2006 and 2007 (available in the documents section) which recognized the guilt of “aggravated and continued murder against private enemies for Max Milde and Siegfried Boettcher. It was an important achievement for the community of Civitella. The demand for justice, which had been solemnly advanced during the visit of President Carlo Azelio Ciampi on October 8 2004 had finally found satisfaction.
And this truth and the history of this community is one of the most important commitments that as Mayor I feel I must carry on. To transmit the memory of the event to the new generations, the Municipality of Civitella organizes every year, together with the Municipality of Bucine a Peace march. The Administration has also contributed to the creation of a “room of Memory”, where historical photos, personal belongings of the victims and publications of various kinds are collected. The memorial site is run with great dedication by “Civitella remembers”, the Committee of Relatives of the victims of the massacre. In a relatively small area such as that of our community, the Second World War had left another important and painful mark: the establishment, in the village of Oliveto, of a concentration camp. In 1942 the camp was mainly populated by Lybian jews who, in homage to the racial laws of 1939, the Fascist Regime had brutally deported from their distant country. In January 1944 the 61 jews still in the camp were deported by SS troops in Fossoli and then transferred to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp where they could survive only for lucky circumstances. It was, again, a story completely obscured that has been brought to light through interviews with local witnesses, the establishment of contacts with some survivors living in Israel, and with an accurate archival research that with the support of a European Union Funding led to the implement of a database now available on the website of the Association for the History and Memories of the Repubic, to which you can access through the section “Concentration Camo ‘Villa Oliveto”.
The reconstruction of the history of Civitella in World War II, in many ways exemplary of similar events that took place in the same years in other parts of Italy and of the world, took advantage of the passionate collaboration of some historians and anthropologists The bibliography of Civitella (available on the site) has gradually expanded over the years and today numbers, to name but a few, the works of Pietro Clemente, Giovanni Contini, Leonardo Paggi. We are proud of this collaboration with the world of culture and historical research. It is a bond we want to preserve and renew forever.
The memory of Nazi massacres is for us an essential component of the republican memory and an inextinguishable source of legitimacy of the anti-fascist democracy re-established after the disaster of World War II, which equally involved and overwhelmed all the peoples of the continent. But in that tragedy, which also assumed the tones of an international civil war, were dug ditches and created hatreds and mutual distrust destined to last. We all feel that now is the time to get out of the trenches, often conflicting, of the national memories. The globalization in which we are all immersed suggests it, and callsthe old continent to competewith other major cultures of the world. But it is suggested also by the same ostacles which sometimes hinder the process of European unification. Maybe other areas of cooperation related to the identity and to the history of individual countries will have to be constituted together with the currency. The judgment of the Court of International Justice in the Hague on February 3, 2012 formulated a call for Italy and Germany to maintain an open negotiation in order to achieve in the short term an amicable solution of the dispute. And also the joined commission of Italian and German historians, commissioned by the respective foreign Italian and German ministries, ended its work with a particular call: it is time for Italy and Germany to open a comparison among their different experiences during World War II, reflecting critically on stereotypes and common senses that have often kept divided public opinion in the two countries. The forum that the Italian Foreign Ministry has organized in Rome after the Hague ruling, inviting to participate the Italian municipalities where the most terrible slaughters took place besides veterans associations has allowed the preparation of projects that were approved and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany also thanks to the invaluable work of coordination carried out by Ambassador Alessandro Pignatti’s Directorate General for the European Union of the Foreign Ministry. The Municipality of Civitella, thanks to the funding, has been able to continue the work of historical research and of dissemination of memory brought forward in recent decades creating this website, enriched with a thorough search of new documentation in new archives and of the translation in the English language, and for some texts in German, which from today will be possible to consult and make a subject of research and study not only for the Italian schools.
Mayor of Civitella in Val di Chiana